Graeme Smith heeds call to help stabilise SA cricket

Graeme Smith has ‘agreed in principle’ to step in to help restore Cricket South Africa.

Cricket South Africa also appointed Jacques Faul as its acting chief executive. The Northerns and Titans boss steps in for Thabang Moroe who was placed on paid suspension on Friday.

CSA President Chris Nenzani briefed the media on a rainy Saturday afternoon at OR Tambo Airport on the results of a marathon board meeting the previous evening.
The crunch talks, which followed a tumultuous week of relentless criticism and the withdrawal of Proteas sponsor Standard Bank, reportedly ran into the early hours of the morning as the embattled organisation attempted to fix its litany of woes.

“When I spoke to him, he did not even think for a moment,” Nenzani said of Faul’s appointment.
“He said, ‘I’ll come in and lend my support for the benefit of cricket in South Africa.’”

In addition to the resolution to appoint Faul as the interim chief executive, Nenzani confirmed that Graeme Smith is set to be appointed director of cricket after he agreed in principle to the position. He is confident that the contract will be signed by Wednesday.

Barring a collapse in negotiations, the former Proteas captain’s appointment will bring an end to a yo-yo saga that has filled headlines for weeks. Smith had initially denied interest before confirming that he could be brought to the table if concerns that he had were looked into.

“He made three very clear issues that I needed to address,” Nenzani said of the effort to recruit Smith. “One, he said he doesn’t trust the organisation. Secondly, he said that he does not believe that he will have enough space to do the work that he needed to do, such that he could not guarantee there would be no political or executive intervention. The third one was he did not trust the CEO.”

The CSA president agreed it was not possible for a director of cricket to effectively work with a chief executive he had reservations about and flew to Cape Town to put Smith’s mind at ease.

“When I engaged with him on these issues, we were able to talk through the and I ended up travelling to Cape Town to meet him,” he continued. “In that meeting I also brought with me the CEO and a member of the board, the now-resigned Shirley Zinn. That was a very important meeting to address all issues openly.”

Nenzani said there are no plans for the board or any more of its members to step down and follow Shirley Zinn and Iqbal Khan out the door. He did acknowledge that the Gauteng Cricket Board had passed a resolution on Thursday evening, calling for the entire CSA board to resign, but that it had not been put forward on the agenda of Friday’s meeting.

Faul, meanwhile, did not downplay the enormity of the job at hand.

“I think you have to act in an ethical way,” he said when asked how CSA will go about regaining the trust that has been lost in the body. “You can’t blame the public for not trusting us for what’s happened. You have to act in an ethical way while putting out fires. Ultimately, we have to retain sponsors and attract new sponsors. That to me is a good indicator: it means corporate SA has actually agreed to giving you a chance.”

Faul will fill the position while Moroe’s fate is resolved over the next six months. Faul would not comment on whether he’d consider taking up the post on a permanent basis.

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